A guide to coronavirus business survival resources and relief

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As we face the uncertainties of COVID-19, we're all grappling with the unknowns ahead of us — both personally and professionally. Accounting and tax professionals are especially in the throes of the evolving situation as federal and state governments discuss how they will provide relief to struggling families and American businesses.

In this article, I will share some of the currently available information about initiatives, programs and resources in place to help business owners weather this storm. This is a dynamic situation, so the available options and their details may change as the crisis continues. At the end of my post, I’ve provided a list of websites and social media accounts for you to follow so that you can keep up with the latest developments.

Resources and relief for business during the coronavirus crisis

1. CDC guide for businesses

The Centers for Disease Control have created an online interim guide for employers. The CDC’s guide addresses many of the disease-related considerations and practices to help mitigate risk and keep employees and customers out of harm’s way. It provides recommendations for dealing with sick employees, cleaning the work environment and creating a response plan.

2. Federal income tax relief

The IRS has created a special section on its website focused on keeping individual taxpayers and businesses informed about tax-related changes in light of the coronavirus.

According to an IRS announcement on March 21, 2020, federal income tax filing and payment (no matter the amount owed) deadlines are extended from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020.

The IRS is automatically providing this relief to taxpayers; individuals and businesses do not need to file any additional forms or contact the IRS for the relief. Any unpaid balances as of July 16, 2020 will begin to accrue penalties, and interest will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of July 16, 2020.

3. State relief initiatives for businesses

Many states are adjusting their income and payroll tax filing and payment schedules. The American Institute of CPAs has created a chart with information about the relief provisions by state. State governments’ websites also provide recent updates about what they’re doing to help their businesses and residents.

Also, some states offer programs and grants to help small businesses. You can find a state-by-state list of workforce agencies on the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.

Many states are amending their laws and modifying unemployment insurance benefits as businesses and their employees face the economic challenges of the coronavirus.

The federal government has given states more flexibility and allows them to pay benefits in situations where:

  • An employer temporarily stops operations due to COVID-19, and its employees are prevented from coming to work.
  • An individual is quarantined and expected to return to work after the quarantine period is completed.
  • An individual leaves employment because of the risk of coronavirus infection or exposure or to take care of a family member.

Also, under federal law, an employee does not have to quit employment to receive unemployment benefits due to the impact of COVID-19.

One example of state unemployment insurance initiatives to address disasters, such as COVID-19, is my home state of California’s Work Sharing Program.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website allows you to search by state for details about unemployment insurance programs in the United States.

4. SBA disaster assistance – loans and counseling services

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans to small businesses suffering significant economic damage because of COVID-19. Companies may use the loans to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that they are unable to pay because of the impact coronavirus has had on their company.

Qualifying small businesses and private, nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and U.S. territories that have been designated as disaster areas may apply for the working capital loans of up to $2 million. See the SBA’s list of all eligible COVID-19 disaster areas on its website. That list will change as the coronavirus situation evolves.

The disaster loan interest rates are as follows:

  • 3.75 percent for small businesses without credit available elsewhere. (Businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible.)
  • 2.75 percent for nonprofits

Loan repayment terms will vary on a case-by-case basis. Loan officers will consider a borrower’s ability to repay when deciding on the term. The loans have repayment terms up to a maximum of 30 years to keep them affordable for struggling businesses.

Business owners in designated disaster areas may apply for a low-interest loan online through the SBA site. They can also track the status of their application there.

Free business counseling services

The SBA and its resource partners across the United States also continue to assist small businesses by offering free business counseling services. To reduce coronavirus risks, organizations have suspended in-person counseling, but online and phone support remains available. Business owners can find local assistance through the SBA website.

5. U.S. Chamber of Commerce assistance Disaster Help Desk

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Disaster Help Desk assists small businesses with disaster readiness, relief and recovery. In addition to advising small businesses on relief options immediately after a disaster strikes, it also offers guidance to help companies to recover and sustain their operations long term.

Coronavirus business resources

The AICPA Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center is providing updates to help accounting and tax professionals guide their clients through these uncertain times.

I’ve assembled a list of websites and social media accounts that you and other business owners can follow to keep on top of COVID-19 updates. I encourage you to share them with your business clients so that they can find accurate and timely information as we all navigate this uncharted territory.

  • USAGov (Provides a list of what the U.S. Government is doing in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The information is also available in Spanish.)

Internal Revenue Service

U.S. Small Business Administration

Centers for Disease Control

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

SCORE (Offers free business mentoring)

United States Department of Labor

Environmental Protection Agency (Provides a list of disinfectants for use against COVID-19)

OSHA (Includes links to interim guidance and other resources with information about reducing exposure to and infection from COVID-19).

We’re in this together

While moments like this are frightening and stressful, they serve to remind us how much we can rely on each other in times of need. Support each other by sharing information and brainstorming ways you can help your clients in the wake of COVID-19. We are all in this together — and together, we will prevail!

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Coronavirus Small business CDC SBA IRS Tax season U.S. Chamber of Commerce